or, The Last Foray in Lithuania,
a story of life among Polish gentlefolk in the years 1811 and 1812, in twelve books
by Adam Mickiewicz
translated by George Rapall Noyes
Poet, playwright, and political activist, the leader of Polish Romanticism. Mickiewicz's best-known works include Forefathers' Eve, Grazyna, Konrad Wallenrod, and the long narrative poem Pan Tadeusz. Much of Mickiewicz's work was written in exile in Russia, where he was banished in 1824. After release he spent the rest of his life in Western Europe, where he became the spiritual leader of Polish emigres.
"Litva! My country, like art thou to health,
For how to prize thee alone can tell
Who has lost thee. I behold thy beauty now
In full adornment, and I sing of it
Because I long for thee."
(from Pan Tadeusz)
Pan Tadeusz (1834), which is regarded as a monument of Polish national literature, expressed Mickiewicz's nostalgia for his homeland. This humorous epic of the Polish gentry in the early 19th century tells of the feud between two noble families. The masterpiece was born three year after Frederic Chopin's famous 'Revolution Etude.' Chopin's ballads captured the same charm and fire typical for Mickiewicz's poems and his polonaises have been regarded in some respect as a national manifestation.
Numerous quotations from Pan Tadeusz are known by heart by nearly every Pole, above all its opening lines:
“Litwo! Ojczyzno moja! ty jesteś jak zdrowie;
Ile cię trzeba cenić, ten tylko się dowie, Kto cię stracił.”
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